The best thing about children is their innate innocence. They see the world very differently. Everything is extraordinary adventure. Every experience is magical. Every day is an exciting journey. The world is pure because they are pure.
A couple years ago, I met an American girl at the Keio Plaza in Tokyo. Her face is now a blur and her name forgotten but over the years her passionate account of when she visited the Theater 360 at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo always remained with me.
She said that when the walked on the glass bridge and saw the evolution of life, she just stood there and cried because it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. The happiness that pulsated through her body was transcending. I skeptically listened and told myself that she probably has a degree in theater with a major in drama. I dismissed her yet somehow her vivid tale was tucked away deep in my memory perhaps because I secretly hoped that it was true.
This weekend almost two years after we accidentally met I finally decided to visit the Theater 360. It was a beautiful spring Sunday in Ueno. The air crisp and the sky was painted a magnificent blue. I entered the automated glass doors, paid 600円 ($7US) and then proceeded to the queue of people waiting to enter the Theater 360. I perused the crowd, made up of parents and eager children, young couples and grandparents patiently holding their grandchildren’s hands and then myself, the cynic.
The usher made an announcement, silencing the room, and then I cautiously entered the glass bridge, scanned the now blank beige room that in an instant it turned a blinding black. Then it began.
The 360 Theater came to life. In that very moment, I knew she was right.
For the first time my life, an elusive dream has somehow come true. I was flying. I was truly flying, over a tropical forest smiling at the world below, floating over an African safari, swimming freely into the depths of the open sea, reveling in its breathtaking beauty. I was Peter Pan, the lost boy in Never Never Land. My skin no longer had wrinkles, I had no worries, the weight of the world was lifted off my feeble shoulders. I was once again that bright-eyed, inquisitive five year old who saw the world full of possibilities.
My eyes welled with tears as I smiled the sincerest smile I had ever smiled. I was overwhelmed with an unexplainable type of happiness. I quickly glimpsed the little boy next to me who was tightly holding his fathers hands, shocked at what he was seeing. The couple in front occasionally kissed each other and I realised that everyone of us in this room had not a single thought except the unbelievable happiness that enveloped us.
In those fifteen minutes I felt as if I had finally found the utopia I had been searching for since my birth. It was the happiness of a first kiss, the euphoria of a first child, the unparalleled of happiness of the sincerest “I love you.”
It ended too quickly. The room morphed back into its original beige state. As I was about to leave, I turned back, looked at the now empty room and smiled, thankful that I had experienced the most amazing thing ever.
Jenson recommends: Visit the National Museum of Nature and Science, and remember that buried deep within all of us is an innocent child who always sees the world full of limitless possibilities.